News / USA

Report: US Expanding Airport Security Checks

FILE - Passengers are scanned at a Terminal C security checkpoint at Logan Airport in Boston using a millimeter wave body scanner.
FILE - Passengers are scanned at a Terminal C security checkpoint at Logan Airport in Boston using a millimeter wave body scanner.
VOA News
The New York Times reports the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of airline passengers before they arrive at U.S. airports by searching what the newspaper calls a "wide array of government and private databases."

The Times says the goal, according to the TSA, is to streamline security procedures for passengers who pose no risk. But the paper says the measures increase the government's authority to use travelers' data for domestic airport screenings in a way that previously only applied to those entering the U.S. from elsewhere.

It says the screenings go beyond the background checks the TSA has conducted for years - comparing a passenger's name, gender and date of birth to terrorist watch lists.  The Times reports the search now includes using a traveler's passport number and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

The paper says the databases the TSA uses can include records like car registrations and employment information.

But in an Internet blog post Tuesday, the agency denied it was expanding the type of information it uses for pre-screening, saying it is not using car registrations, employment information or "private databases."

But the TSA did not deny using government databases for the checks.  And it said some passengers who have not signed up for the agency's pre-screening program, known as TSA PreCheck, are still getting the program's "expedited screening benefits."  The agency said it is providing those benefits using each passenger's name, date of birth and gender, which it described as information travelers have provided for years.

Under the TSA PreCheck program, people can sign up for a background check and pay a small fee to receive expedited screening, allowing them to keep their shoes, belts and coats on and their laptops in their bags.

The TSA blog team says the goal of such programs is to improve passenger's traveling experiences, moving from a "one-size-fits-all" security approach to one that provides "a much larger part of the traveling population" the opportunity for "faster" security and "less hassle." The statement said the agency has "a very high bar" when it comes to protecting travelers' civil liberties.

But The New York Times said privacy groups it contacted expressed concern about the security agency's "widening reach."

The TSA was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, when al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four U.S. commercial airliners, flying two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon, outside Washington. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More